Lost in no man’s land

Notes and quotes from our loss to Athletic Bilbao

atletico madrid defender luis amaranto perea is shown a ridiculous red card for a non-existent foul on Athletic Bilbao forward fernando llorente

Teixeira Vitienes sends off Perea (theoffside.com)

Another day to forget. Make that a month to never remember.

While the over-arching problems at Atlético can be blamed on the club’s board, we set those aside here and fix our attention on the match at hand.

Early on against Athletic, we were looking a lot livelier than we did last week in Gijón. With Kun and Reyes back and leading the attack, we created several chances that we were unfortunately unable to capitalise on.

As whiny as it sounds, there’s no denying that a grave injustice was served against our men by referee Teixeira Vitienes’ harsh red card and penalty on birthday-boy Perea. That absurd decision conditioned the rest of the clash, practically signalling the ‘game over’ for los Colchoneros just when it seemed our crisis-killing goal was most imminent.

Things were momentarily looking up again after Fernando Llorente missed his gift-wrapped spot kick (unsurprisingly since you aren’t allowed to head in a pk), but it was confirmed minutes later that it wasn’t going to be our day when Forlán inexplicably missed a one-on-one against Iraizoz.

“When things like that expulsion happen, you walk away with a stupid face,” José Antonio Reyes told the club’s official site after the match. “There are a lot of things happening these past weeks that are affecting the team.”

Tiago addressed the issues that have been affecting the club in more detail. “These are bad games, it’s a bad streak,” he said. “We don’t generate football, all kinds of stuff happens to us on the field. We don’t score goals and we concede stupid ones.”

The former Portugal international was spot on about our inability to generate football. After our 2-0 loss to the Basques, we have now been shut out 3 straight times, twice at home. We’ve managed just 1 victory in 8 chances so far in 2011, and have only scored 6 goals while allowing 12.

With the defeat to los Leones, we close out the first month of the new decade with a mere 4 out of a possible 15 points from league matches. Last January, we finished the month with 9 out of 15 points.

If Valencia beat Racing later this evening, the gap between us and 4th place widens to a seemingly insurmountable 13 points, less than a week ahead of our terrifying trip to Barcelona.

Drifting away and lost in no man’s land in the classification table, it’s time for Atlético to re-draw its objective for the 2010-11 campaign, as Champions League play is now but a fairy tale.

Post-game notes:

Quique mum on referee, delusional about Champions League
When asked about the officiating, manager Quique Sanchez Flores told the official site, “It’s not the day to talk about that. In the first half we were doing well, we were dynamic.

“Anything could have happened. From the first blow, the penalty, we recovered. From the second blow, the goal against, we also recovered. But from the third blow, the second goal, we fell. We were knocked out,” he said.

Quique then became delusional about our chances of a top-4 finish.

“I wouldn’t rule out a Champions League spot,” he said. “I’ve been a part of football for a long time and have seen it all. Last year, we spent several weeks in the relegation zone and we have to remember what we were able to achieve.

“It’s difficult, but last season, I thought it was impossible.”

It was impossible last season. We ended the year in a ho-hum 9th place. We qualified for Europa League play for this campaign by winning last season’s edition of the competition.

At this point last year, we were still alive in cup competitions. I hate to break it to you Quique but, realistically speaking, our new objective should be Europa League qualification. After falling to Athletic, who currently hold the Europa League cut-off position, we are 5 points out of a berth into that competition.

Elias, right-back, blew the coverage on Toquero’s first goal
Elias’ role in yesterday’s clash was unclear. He seemed free to roam around in the back wherever he found a spot to his liking and spent much of the first half just in front of countryman Filipe on the left side.

The former Corinthians man was involved in two of our clearest goal-scoring opportunities though, and had sent in a majestic pass to Reyes that the Andalusian ended up wasting deep inside Bilbao’s box.

However, after Perea was sent-off, Quique had Elias drop to right-back with Ujfalusi replacing Perea in a more central role. This new formation was set up presumably to finish the half without having to make a substitution while Quique and his assistant sorted things out at the break. As many guessed in the dying minutes of the first part, Dominguez would come in for Elias in the second half.

This little bit of hesitation or indecision by Quique led to Toquero’s first goal. Elias looked lost and simply watched as Iraola sent in a cross to Toquero, who the Brazilian was by default responsible for guarding. Elias embarrassingly resorted to throwing up his hands calling for offsides while the Basque forward ran in to power the ball past De Gea.

Though the 25-year-old could have done better, it’s hard to fault him for a defensive error when he was abruptly shifted out of position.

Forlán, oh Forlán
Diego Forlán got the chance he was likely dreaming of all week, but very tragically botched his chance to silence his detractors.

Cacha, who is rumoured to have lost his only friend in the dressing room with Simao’s departure, spent much of the match yelling and complaining at his team-mates, further isolating himself from the rest of the squad.

Fernando and José Antonio Teixeira Vitienes, the brothers who hate Atleti
One goes by the nickname of Teixeira Vitienes I and the other as Teixeira Vitienes II. Which one is which? Who cares. What’s certain is that the Liga referees and siblings hate Atleti.

AS reminded us that José Antonio, the brother of yesterday’s referee Fernando, officiated our league clash against Espanyol at the Calderón where los Pericos were gifted a penalty kick resulting from a supposed Reyes hand ball in the box.

Tiago is light-years better than Raul Garcia
No, that’s all. Tiago is light-years better than Raul Garcia. Plus, it’s always fun to take a shot at Raul.

Stat of the day
Osasuna scored one goal against Real Madrid yesterday, which was enough to shut out los Blancos 1-0. At least this dark Sunday had a bright spot. Let’s try to keep our heads up Rojiblancos.

  • Mert

    great post martin.
    but hey, racing did draw against valencia 🙂

    and i completely agree that Forlan looked like a douche yelling at his teammates all game. after he missed that chance he pretty much lost the right to speak negatively to anyone in my book